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Gibbons fills health lawsuit fund

Gov. Jim Gibbons on Tuesday said a legal fund he arranged to pay costs associated with a lawsuit to block a federal health reform law raised $3,825, more than the original goal of $3,500. Money that isn’t used for the case will be returned to donors who gave after the $3,500 goal was met, Gibbons said.

The biggest contribution, $2,700, came Monday from the campaign of John Chachas, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. There were 17 other contributions, none larger than $200 nor less than $10.

The "Constitution Defense Fund" was Gibbons’ idea to pay filing costs for a lawsuit to block implementation of the the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Gibbons sought to add Nevada to the list of states joining the suit in U.S. District Court in Pensacola, Fla., because the governor says the federal law runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution.

Las Vegas lawyer Mark Hutchison is managing the fund and providing legal counsel in the case at no charge to the state. Hutchison got involved after Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto declined Gibbons’ request for her to take the case. Masto says the health reform law appears to conform to the constitution and that participating in the case would be a waste of taxpayer money.

Disagreement over the case between Masto, a Democrat, and Gibbons, a Republican, touched off statewide debate over whether the attorney general has the authority to decline a case over the will of the governor.

It resulted in criticism from anti-reform law quarters who said Masto was required to take the case and critics of Gibbons who said the governor is merely seeking publicity for his re-election campaign, which has raised little money relative to Republican challenger Brian Sandoval.

Hutchison says lawyers are currently drafting an amended complaint seeking to add Nevada and other states to the lawsuit and will file by mid-May. Masto has not yet said whether she will challenge Nevada’s standing in the case.

Attached is a list of contributions to the fund and Gibbons’ full statement from earlier today. The Chachas contribution is not included on the list, but was confirmed by Gibbons’ deputy chief of staff Stacy Woodbury and a consultant to the Chachas campaign.

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